Without asking, iced tea is poured into my emptied glass.

It’s one of the things I like best about restaurants.  And it’s a sign of a great waitress or waiter: before I’ve even interrupted my conversation to flag down the server, the pitcher is here, refilling my drink.

Caffeine overload aside, it’s so satisfying to think there is an endless supply available to me.

This is the image that came to me when I was reading about Jesus in the first chapter of John.  He describes Jesus as:

…the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.  (John 1:14)

Then a little later on, adds,

Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. (vs.16)

Other translations have grace upon grace.  But the NIV here captures the concept well – it’s not as pithy, but more accurate.  The connecting word, for, means instead of or in exchange for.  As grace is received and used, the empty vessel is handed back and filled up again.

Please, sir, I’d like some more!

And Christ gives more.  More unmerited, undeserved blessing and kindness.  More of his transforming love.  More of his presence.  Because he is full of grace.  He fills and refills because he himself is brimming.

His desire is to give life abundantly.  (John 10:10). Jesus tells the woman at the well that his water is “a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14). He teaches his disciples that if they give abundantly, more will be given – “pressed down, shaken together, running over… poured into your lap.” (Luke 6:38)

The Son is overflowing with grace so that we may share in it.

Whenever I walk outside, I experience grace upon grace.  Today, it is the lavish, deep pink of a dogwood blossom, still glistening from recent rain.  But it is also the azure of the sky.  The texture of the trees.  And the call of a towhee – the first time I’ve heard one in my back yard.  Could its call be a nod of the Lord to my analogy?  Drink-your-teeeea!

And as I receive these small, unmerited blessings, in a sense I use them up, giving them back to the Lord in little celebrations.  Sometimes, those responses are framed by words of praise.  Most often, though, they are reflected back to the Lord in a silent, internal recognition of both the beauty and the Giver of the beauty.

It’s a flare of pleasure shot through with gratitude.

As soon as I use up one of these moments of grace, another one appears.  Jesus has a never-ending supply of them.  But the flow depends very much on whether I use the ones that have been given.  If I don’t notice, if I don’t celebrate, the glass remains full.

And Jesus waits with the pitcher poised.  Ready to replenish when the glass is emptied.

Drink your tea!

Teach us, Lord, to experience the grace you give.  In a way, to use it up.  To recognize and celebrate each reminder of your goodness and love, so that you may pour out more.  May we ever be thirsty for more of you!

Reader: Tell me about one “moment of grace” you’ve had recently.

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Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.